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signing a last will and testament

Witnesses can now witness Will signings via video link.

27th July 2020 by Witnesses can now witness Will signings via video link.

Categories: Covid-19
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In the UK, a Will is only valid if it meets certain legal requirements. One of these requirements is that the testator signs their Will in the physical presence of two independent adult witnesses, who must also sign the Will document. Such a situation would require 3 people to be in close proximity to each other, something that has proved difficult in recent months due to the national lockdown and social distancing guidelines.

During the lockdown period, there has been a significant increase in the usage of video conferencing, using platforms such as Zoom and FaceTime as a communication solution. The law has now recognised the benefits of video conferencing and the difficulties posed for people creating Wills at this time and now allows for Will signings to be witnessed remotely via video software.

A witness is able to virtually witness a Will signing provided the quality of the sound and video is sufficient to see and hear what is happening at the time of the signing of the Will. This move will make it easier for the more vulnerable members of the population who may be self-isolating or shielding, to legally document their final wishes.

All signed and virtually witnessed Wills will still need to be signed by both of the witnesses, however the signing by the witnesses can take place at a later date.

The change to the law is to be backdated to 31st January 2020, meaning that any Will witnessed remotely from that date will be a legally valid Will. The measure is, however, only intended to be temporary at this stage, with a current end date of 31st January 2022.

The Ministry of Justice has stressed that video technology should remain a last resort, and people must continue to arrange physical witnessing of Wills where it is safe to do so.

If you would like to make or amend an existing Will or discuss the changes to the law please contact Thomas Murray at t.murray@laceyssolicitors.co.uk or 01202 755210 today.

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